This past Friday, Bill Todhunter was bringing in the trash cans from the driveway when he heard his wife screaming. He left the cans and rushed out back to the couple's deck at their home overlooking Port Everglades.
There, just a short distance away, the 2,850-passenger Celebrity Equinox was headed straight toward them.
"No! Stop!" his wife Yasmine yelled at the cruise ship. "Too close! Get out!"
Bill Todhunter, a former U.S. Olympics women's curling coach, has lived in the area since 2010 and is used to seeing ships sail past the couple's home hundreds of times a week. "It's one of our favorite parts of the day, to go out and wave at the cruise ships," he says.
But this time, Todhunter says, the Equinox wasn't taking the usual route used by cruise ship captains and harbor pilots. As the ship continued floating menacingly toward them, he and his wife
"We didn't know how hard it was going to hit," Todhunter says.
Thankfully, that didn't happen. Celebrity Cruises spokesman Owen Torres tells New Times the ship docked safely.
"As Equinox departed on Friday, March 3, she was in her assigned channel at all times under the guidance of specialized local port pilots," Torres said in a statement. "The ship operated safely and did not put guests or crew at risk. We can also confirm the ship did not touch bottom."
Though it's unclear exactly what happened, news reports indicate the ship wasn't able to come into the port or dock at its regular spot because a tanker truck had spilled 8,000 gallons of fuel at Port Everglades. Todhunter says the cruise line, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, has yet to respond to his emails, although the company shared the same statement on his Facebook post:
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According to Port Everglades personnel, the cruise ships are controlled by harbor pilots from the Port Everglades Pilots Association, not the cruise lines' captains, when entering or exiting the port. The association did not respond to a New Times email requesting an explanation Tuesday.
Update: Sarah Bascom,
"Due to the strong winds and current at the time, the cruise ship in question came closer than usual to the side of the channel, as shown in the video. The local Port Everglades harbor pilot maintained navigational control of the vessel throughout this maneuver, skillfully keeping it within the channel, then proceeded to safely guide the vessel out to sea. As stated by the cruise line, the vessel did not touch bottom. The use of bow thrusters in the channel disturbs the water and routinely churns up silt and mud, as shown in the video."
(H/T: Jim Walker, Cruise Law News)